Influencers And Bloggers Were Offered Money To Post Sponcon In Support Of Cory Booker

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Written by Dana Sanchez
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United We Win, a super PAC supporting 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, is turning to influencer marketing. Booker addresses the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner reception, in Washington, Sept. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

United We Win, a super PAC supporting 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, is turning to influencer marketing — a huge market often left untouched by politics.

BuzzFeed News reported that the super PAC had advertised on AspireIQ, a site that matches brands to influencers. The PAC offered $110 to $520 for influencers to post positive messages about Booker, according to the New York Times.

Influencer marketing involves paying people who have large social media followings — celebrities, athletes and personalities — to promote something to their followers using their organic reach.

The ad asked supporters to “keep Cory in the fight with a small donation.” It set off a discussion about whether or not it’s ethical to pay influencers for political sponsorships. The site has since removed the ad, according to BuzzFeed.

Amanda Johnson, a 23-year-old fashion and lifestyle blogger, was matched with a campaign that has since been removed. The PAC agreed to pay Johnson to post support for Booker. Johnson runs a small blog and Instagram account called Sequins and Sales. She told BuzzFeed she was “intrigued” by the campaign, but something felt “off” and ethically “iffy.”

“There are already a lot of influencers who aren’t disclosing their partnerships, even though the FTC requires them to. And now they won’t be disclosing partnerships (with politicians) and it’s even more iffy to me,” Johnson told BuzzFeed.

Super PAC spokesman Philip Swibinski said that influencers will be paid similarly to how individual canvassers are.

“Our organization is committed to using emerging digital tools to independently promote Cory Booker’s candidacy because we believe that he is the best choice to beat Donald Trump and unite our country,” Swibinski said. “This is simply another way to engage dedicated grassroots supporters online.”

However, the Booker campaign did not seem excited about the strategy, New York Times reported.

“This is nothing to do with our campaign and this isn’t a tactic our campaign employs,” said Sabrina Singh, a spokeswoman for Booker’s campaign.

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Blogger Johnson gave BuzzFeed screenshots of conversations she’d had and observed in private Facebook groups she’s in. Some people worried about polarizing their followers and felt politics and religion are off-limits for paid ads.

Others had no problem getting paid to endorse candidates. “If you’re already vocal about politics and your candidate support then why not do that with your business?” one person asked. “Plus, if you’re worried about blogger influence on the election shouldn’t that be the energy towards every endorsement ever?”

“Personally, I have no issue with it,” another person said. “Celebrities always take stands. And frankly, you should use your influence for good! Lord knows nobody needs another 4 years of this shit.”